No parent can imagine the feeling of being told your child has little or no chance to live at birth. Matt and Tammy Heston heard those words when their son, Connor, suffered a brain injury due to birth trauma. But, despite the odds, Connor beat them.
Connor was almost immediately transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Blank Children’s Hospital after birth, where he spent the first month of his life.
“The toughest part was Tammy was an hour away for the first three days of his life,” said Matt. "Connor’s next three weeks were spent on a ventilator, with survival being the primary focus.”
After his first month, Connor was able to breathe on his own, his condition improved, and Connor was sent home. Before his first birthday, Connor was hospitalized 10 times at Blank Children’s Hospital for respiratory illnesses and gastrointestinal surgeries.
“We had a short time of pity, thinking ‘Why us?’” said Tammy. “But then, we quickly moved on to a philosophy of not agreeing with Connor’s prognosis, knowing he’d prove people wrong.”
Today, Connor still battles respiratory infections, as his brain injury left him unable to swallow. However, he remains an easy-going, fun-loving 9-year-old, who enjoys watching movies, playing video games, cheering for the Iowa State Cyclones, picking on his younger sister and going to school. Connor also has a passion for athletics.
“Connor just completed his fourth year of Miracle League Baseball in Des Moines, where he plays third base and bats left-handed for the Cubs,” said Matt. “Connor also plays Power Chair Soccer weekly for Adaptive Sports Iowa in West Des Moines for the past year and a half.”
Connor has made great strides. Currently, he receives occupational, speech and physical therapy once a week in home and also receives biweekly in-home nursing visits and has a nurse who accompanies him to school every day. Through it all, Connor and his family stay positive.
“Priorities quickly shift when you have a special needs child,” said Tammy. “We have become advocates for those in similar situations. Connor has taught us a lot about perseverance, patience and hope. We never say never with respect to Connor.”